Baguio City may soon enjoy more autonomy as the bill revising its charter hurdled the third and final reading approval at the House of Representatives.
Principally authored by Rep. Mark Go of Baguio City, House Bill 8240 proposes to revise and codify the old Charter of the City of Baguio, which was enacted into law and made effective on Sept. 1, 1909 by virtue of Sections 2540 to 2574 of the Revised Administrative Code of 1917, as amended.
Although Baguio City shall retain its identity as a highly urbanized city and remain part of the Cordillera Administrative Region, Go seeks to develop genuine and meaningful political, social, and fiscal autonomy for the city government to continue to sustain and improve its development as a self-reliant community and a more effective partner in the attainment of national goals.
Go, vice chairman of the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture, provides Baguio City with corporate powers, such as the powers to exercise continuous succession in its corporate name; to sue and be sued; and to acquire and convey real and personal property.
It also provides for general powers such as to 1) levy taxes, fees, and charges; 2) close and open roads, streets, alleys, parks, or squares; and 3) expropriate or condemn private property for public use, among others.
In his bill, Go, member of the House Committee on North Luzon Quadrangle, proposes to settle the City's boundary dispute with the adjoining municipality of Tuba, in the province of Benguet by defining the territorial boundaries to comprise the City's present territorial jurisdiction.
Moreover, the bill shall effectively implement the land use development plan of the city government and to address the problem in the disposition of alienable and disposable public lands which are part of the City's Townsite Reservation.
Under Article X of the bill, all alienable and disposable lands within the Baguio City Townsite Reservation shall be disposed of and awarded by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). This shall be done through the grant of residential free patent, townsite sales, or other modes of disposition pursuant to Republic Act 10023 or the Public Land Act and such laws authorizing the disposition of the lands to qualified actual occupants thereon.
The DENR and the City shall coordinate to advance the cost for the conduct of a subdivision survey of all its alienable and disposable public lands which are part of its Townsite Reservation in accordance with the city's land use development plan.
Areas shall be segregated for public use such as road systems, greenbelt areas, health center sites, school sites, and danger zones as determined by the geosciences experts from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the DENR.
A Special Committee on Lands shall be created to assist the DENR and to serve as venue for the resolution of all land-related issues in the city.
The committee will protect the interest of Baguio City and its long-time occupants, especially the review of all ancestral land claims, the conversion of lands, and disposition of public lands.
The City Mayor, Vice Mayor or the Committee on Land Use and Urban Development shall chairman the committee, while the DENR serves as co-chairman and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples as vice-chairman.